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MONEY MATTERS

Comic book explains loans
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has added another comic to its strip.

"The Story of Consumer Credit" is the latest in a running series of educational handouts the bank publishes to explain economic topics to America's high school and college students.

While there's no action super-hero, the latest book keeps true to its genre by using light-hearted situations to better acquaint younger people with terms such as collateral, finance charges and explain how interest rates are set.

The book also lists ways to establish good credit, among them, opening a bank account or shopping for a low-interest credit card and paying the bill on time.

The comics, which the Fed has been making since the 1950s, have become increasingly popular with instructors who praise their clarity.

Copies of "The Story of Consumer Credit" or other comics can be obtained by calling the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at (212) 720-6134 or writing to the bank at 33 Liberty St., New York, N.Y. 10045. Up to 35 copies of the comics are free. After that, they cost 25 cents each, with exceptions for classroom use.

Associated Press

Freedom from junk e-mail
The people who brought you junk mail and telemarketing are offering a free service to block the latest form of direct marketing -- spam.

Consumers and businesses can now sign up not to receive unsolicited e-mail advertisements, also known as spam, with the Direct Marketing Association at www.e-mps.org.

The way it will work is that when a company prepares to send mass e-mails, it will first cross check with the association's database and send e-mails to people who haven't signed up.

"E-mail Preference Service" comes as pressure has been building against direct marketers who have turned to the Internet in the past five years as a quick, cheap and easy way to reach the greatest numbers. Internet service providers complain spam clogs up their pipelines, and they have lobbied for new laws to block mass e-mailings, arguing that up to 30 percent of all e-mail is spam.

All of the Direct Marketing Associations' 4,600 members who use mass e-mailing must sign up, but some spammers aren't members. Also, consumers who already have a relationship with retailers may still receive e-mail from them.

Knight Ridder/Tribune

Students adding credit cards
Credit cards are becoming more and more popular among the college-age crowd. While many manage their new-found credit responsibly, the spending power can spell trouble for others.

Nearly three-quarters of full-time undergraduate students already hold some type of plastic, studies show.

The average undergraduate has $2,226 in credit card debt, 14 percent of students carry balances between $3,000 and $7,000, while 10 percent have balances exceeding $7,000, according to Nellie Mae, a non-profit student loan provider. Many of the biggest debtors, it says, hold four or more cards.

Associated Press

LaLoggia likes Granite
Granite Broadcasting Corp., which owns Channel 7 in Buffalo, is a possible takeover target, says Rochester newletter publisher Charles M. LaLoggia.

Why should investors heed his advice? Because LaLoggia predicted the 1999 takeover wave in water utilities in his newsletter Special Situation Investor, and has had 44 of his recommended takeover candidates acquired in the past 43 months.

"He's an outstanding finder of takeover stocks," said Robert Stovall, president of Stovall/21st Advisers Inc., a New York money management and brokerage firm, and a reader of LaLoggia's newsletter for 20 years.

Bloomberg News

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